India's top swimming hope Virdhawal Khade is practicing vigorously for the upcoming FINA World Championships in Barcelona but is handicapped by the absence of his regular coach and training partners since shifting base to Mumbai.
"I have started my preparations for the World Championships two months ago and I train for four hours daily at the Vile Parle pool. The facilities are good but I have to motivate myself in the absence of my coach (Nihar Ameen) and training partners with whom I had been training in Bangalore before shifting to Mumbai eight months ago to take up a job," the lanky 21-year-old swimmer told PTI here on Wednesday evening on the sidelines of a function organised by the Maharashtra Olympic Association.
The 6-foot, 3-inch swimmer is the national record holder in all freestyle sprints from 50m to 400m as well as in the 50m butterfly stroke in which he scooped up a bronze in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, the first medal for India in swimming in 24 years since Khazan Singh Tokas had made a big splash at the 1986 Seoul Asiad with a silver-winning effort in the 200m fly.
Asked what he was focusing on to achieve in the July 19 to August 4 World Championships, the Kolhapur-born swimmer retorted "to achieve my personal best times"
His personal bests are 22.55 sec, 49.47 sec, 1min 49.86 sec, 4mins 01.87 sec and 24.17 sec in 50, 100, 200, 400m freestyle and 50m fly events.
Khade, who competed in three freestyle events at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, has two major events to concentrate next year - the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.